Jonas Brodin had mixed emotions watching the Wild play nearly a month without him.
Being away from the team was "not fun" for the defenseman, who was healing up a nagging lower-body injury.
"At the same time," Brodin said, "it was nice to see them win, too. They played really good hockey."
The Wild went 8-1-3 without Brodin, that lone regulation loss on Saturday to NHL-leading Boston ending their franchise-record point streak before Brodin returned Sunday in a bounce-back, 5-3 win over Washington.
Even when Brodin was factored in, the Wild were never at full strength during their 14-game tear, and they still aren't.
But their health is improving at a time when a new catalyst has started to stabilize the team, and that's the offense.
"Guys have to step up," Matt Boldy said. "I think it's every man in this room that's done it."
While the Wild have been sans their leading scorer, they have turned in their most productive stretch of the season.
Since March 9 when the team announced Kirill Kaprizov was expected to be sidelined three to four weeks because of a lower-body injury, the Wild have posted a whopping 24 goals in five contests — a 4.80 goals-per-game average that ranks second in the NHL during that span. They had just 10 goals across the five previous (excluding the shootout) while their defense set the tone; their next-best output for a five-game stretch is 22 from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3.
Not only that, but 14 different players have scored in these past five outings, which is tied for the second-most in the NHL since March 9; that number was at eight during the five preceding games.
"I don't think they sat in there and said, 'Guys we have to score now,' " coach Dean Evason said. "They've always tried to score, but with [Kaprizov's] absence, they all know that there's a little extra push that's needed to be had because literally he's playing half the game. So there's opportunities for people to, and people have been able to step up."
Leading the way is Boldy, who has a team-high five goals since Kaprizov has been out of the lineup. He potted his second NHL hat trick on Sunday, the latest display of his budding chemistry with new linemate Marcus Johansson after Johansson arrived via trade last month for a second stint with the Wild.
Johansson set up Boldy's first two goals vs. the Capitals, helping Boldy eclipse the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career, while Boldy has assisted on the two tallies Johansson has chipped in over his past five appearances. Overall, the two have combined for 19 points since they formed a line with Joel Eriksson Ek on March 2.
"We play similar," Boldy said, "but in terms of how we think the game, we want to produce. We want to be creative and make plays, but we're pretty solid and can protect pucks and play in the hard areas.
"Obviously, the way he skates makes it pretty easy for me to be able to get him pucks when he's moving that quick. So it's been going well."
Their top-six forward group, however, hasn't been supplying all the scoring for the Wild. Fourth-liner Ryan Reaves has the second-most goals on the team during this five-game blitz with three.
"I'm obviously happy for our line that we're contributing, and everyone else that's chipping in while [Kaprizov's] out," Reaves said. "I think it's important, especially coming into the playoffs here. Kirill is going to start getting top checking lines in the playoffs. We're going to need everybody."
Kaprizov isn't the only forward on the mend.
Gustav Nyquist is still out because of a shoulder injury that didn't dissuade the Wild from adding him before the trade deadline last month, but Marcus Foligno (lower-body injury) could be back as soon as Tuesday when the Wild begin a two-game road trip at New Jersey — this after Brodin, Brandon Duhaime (upper-body injury) and Jake Middleton (illness) all rejoined the action on Sunday.
And when the Wild do get healthier?
"I expect more of the same," Matt Dumba said. "I expect us to go out there every night and get those two points. I think we're on a good track right now, and we just got to keep this going."